While the Xiaomi Mi3 had come with a 13-megapixel back camera, and the device was priced quite low when compared to its successor, the main question for many would be whether the Xiaomi Mi4 has got any improvements to its 13-megapixel shooter, and whether the upgrade would be worth it, if the camera is taken into consideration.
If this was the MIUI v5, we would have been very much disappointed, because the way Xiaomi has added some options to control exposure, brightness and filters, the camera app makes the capture experience better. So firstly, let’s put the focus on the application itself.
Like the iOS camera app, swiping up and down opens up different sets of options – swipe down and you get to see filters with live preview on each of them, and swipe up to see various options, such as Audio capture, Highlight tones, Burst shoot, Panorama, HDR capture (which has both Normal HDR and Live HDR), Refocus mode and Manual control options.
Refocus mode works pretty neatly, where you just need to take a picture, and it later allows you to refocus on any of the object in the picture. Rules apply though, as you might need the objects to be in a good distance from one another. The various filters include Mono, Vivid, Yesteryear, Blur, Fish Eye, Mosaic, Dawn, Japanese, Autumn, Indigo and Mirror.
While you focus by tapping finger on the object, there’s a wheel shown with shutter icon, as well as a drag, which when rotated changes the brightness in the picture. That’s good when you don’t want some pictures to be too bright or low lit unnecessarily.
Samples of low light captures, with manual brightness control.
The captures are great in color output, even without the HDR mode. With great, we might not call it the best of the 13MP cameras out there, as the LG G3 had better captures in bright light. Even in low light, there are noticeable grains, and more importantly, colors are all gone if there is no good light source.
The bigger problem is, there is no stabilization offered by both, hardware and software. Even a little shake, is a shake noticed in the final capture. If all goes well, you end up getting a decent picture in all light conditions, but a little struggle might be there for focusing onto the object in low light.
HDR does a wonderful job, taking away shadows and adding a more natural touch. The normal HDR would be more preferred than Live HDR, as the Live HDR was more or less what you see on a normal capture.
The 8-megapixel front-facing camera was great in every way – number and quality. Sony, Samsung and such brands claim to have selfie phones, with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera which artificially flattens the picture. Xiaomi takes it to the next level, although we aren’t seeing something new (Gionee Elife E7 had a 8MP selfie camera with Autofocus). The camera is capable of face recognition and focusing on it, and also guessing the age of the person based on facial features. In my case, it failed big time. But the end captures were very good.
We’re yet to do some video recording to show the footage of the same, and it is possible to capture 4K videos using the 13-megapixel rear shooter of the Xiaomi Mi4, while the other options include HDR, fast motion and slow motion.
How much did we like the cameras on the Mi4? They are surely better than what we had seen on the predecessor, i.e. the Mi3, but still, they aren’t convincing enough to be called the best cameras with 13MP sensors. Main reason, is the lack of stabilization.